Burn Notice Review: Deconstructing Westen

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Michael took a drugged-induced trip down memory lane as part of the final step of meeting the head of the organization that Sonya works for in "Psychological Warfare."

I've commended Jeffery Donovan’s acting skills before. But allow me to append that previous comment by pointing out that Donovan deserves an Emmy for his performance this week. Additionally, John Pyper-Ferguson (Alphas) was incredibly smooth, caring and scary-as-hell as James. 

The Downward Spiral

I wondered when I saw Tim Matheson's name in the opening credits how they were going to work Larry Sizemore into the episode because he was blown to pieces by Fiona on Burn Notice Season 5. Sweaty-drugged-out-vision-quest seems like such an easy answer in hindsight.

There were several little details that caught my eye during Michael's trip through the looking glass. For example, in his visions he was wearing a clean version of the actual cloths he was wearing in the interrogation. Did it seem like he was going to break the fourth wall as he went back and forth between James and his visions to anyone else? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he didn't as it would have ruined the scene; but at least twice as he looked at the camera I kind of expected it.   

As this final season comes to a close, it’s nice to get a few missing details filled in. This was a perfect example, all the times that Larry showed up, I don’t think Michael ever went into the nuances of why they stopped working together. If they did, then it was minor enough that it didn't stick with me. 

Seeing the incident with the factory was a triple win in my book. First, it was poetic that Larry was later blown up by Fiona. Second, we saw the details of Michael and Larry’s falling out. Third, and the most mind-bending, the factory incident has been the driving force behind his low body count and collateral damage record. Mind. Blown.

The only thing in the episode that stood out strangely was Michael’s dock-side confession to Fiona about him and Sonya. Isn't Fiona sharing a bed with Carlos? Does Michael think they are only cuddling in that bed? 

The only thing I could figure out was that the scene was for us the audience and not really part of the story. I’m pretty sure we all know that Michael is still in love with Fiona and slept with Sonya for the job. We really didn't need it spelled out, we know our Michael.  

But that one odd scene aside, this was one the best episodes of Burn Notice ever filmed. I didn't even care about the Hyundai commercial Sam and Fiona did as they were following Sonya. Okay, to be fair, the drifting slide that Fiona did around the corner made the rest worth it. 

Overall, I’m giving the episode 4.9 defiant stares for young Michael who bravely stood up to his father, which in turn allowed him to defy James and the drugs.

I’m ending this week on a question (please feel to comment below with your answer): Were you surprised by anything in Michael's visions? 


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (76 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Surprised no one has mentioned Anwar's terrific turn as Michael's first imaginary visitor; whoever chooses her clothes got it just right: red red, a cross between modern dress and what a goddess would wear. Unquestionably she is still Michael's ideal: beautiful, passionate, and perilous, his notion of life itself. Sonya, by comparison, is pale and insipid. Interesting to speculate what an appearance by his mother or Nate would have been like. I wish the producers had carried the dream-world theme further in the scenes with Tim Matheson and Michael's father, and up through the first part of Sonya's faked rescue. He could have snapped out of it at the point when he demanded why she was saving him.


You do know we have one whole Month before the show ends and there no way it could be done in shorter sequence


While Jeffrey was great, it was too long for me. There are a precious few episodes left and I feel like this one took too long with the drugs and the bells and whistles, this point should have been made in a shorter sequence.


Is there an actor on TV today who can give a better performance than Jeffrey Donovan has been giving on Burn Notice? I don't think so. He is totally brilliant! Wow! I was a little surprised that more info on Michael's father wasn't revealed. Remember, Anson Fullerton told Michael that his father's heart attack had to be arranged. There's more story to be told here. Well, that's fine with me because I would love to see Michael Westen continue as a character in a new show. Of course, that means that the whole gang comes along too--even adorable little Charlie. I have never found so much pleasure in a TV show before and I am a senior citizen so I've been around for a long while. A special thanks to all involved in the making of this great show.


Great though lacking in entertainment.


First time poster: I just turned 60, I was physically and, verbally and psychologically abused by my father. I am a huge Mad Men fan and an equally huge fan of Burn Notice. Because of my history, it is very important to me that the arcs of both series "get it right". Both are. The whole of each series is a damaged guy having his own existential adventure discovering himself in a classically mythological format. My guess is that management originally dropped Michael into Miami in order to drop him into his dysfunctional life where he could be easily manipulated and could recreate an extended family for support. As the very essence of existentialism, Michael is confronted with what type of new identity and new family he will create. Last night's episode was brilliant in concept and execution. Jeffery Donovan true acting genius is his ability to project a perceptible emotional barrier that all abused people have and all abused people readily recognize in others. Yet, the actor allows you to see through the prism and glimpse pain, scars and disease. Hell, I am a good enough actor emote RAGE!!! Matt Nix has shown his genius in subtly turning the series structure inside out. In the beginning, the front stories were the weekly episodes of action seasoned with a mysterious back story of Michael's professional past, then personal past. Now, the old back story has become the central arc with even Michael's personal past eclipsing his professional past. This is pure writing genius. I am so lucky Nix chose to take the series to its logical end and then end it there. Again, as a fan of Mad Men, I submit that if the Burn Notice series is re-watched in its entirety, it will present as much symbolism and nuance as MM. Apologies for being long-winded. :-)


Jeffrey's acting was fantastic, no doubt, and it was interesting to get some more of his background, but I thought for the most part, it was a waste of an hour. I called up my dad right afterwards, and that's the first thing he said, too, when he picked up the phone. Maybe it's because we miss the humor that attracted us to this series in the first place.


Great episode. Easily one of my favorites of the series. Also, I hope James and Sam have a scene together at some point for all the Brisco County Jr fans.


The guy who play Michael dad was perfect everything that was said about him fit the actor. As for being surprised by anything in Michael's visions I would say Larry was the surprised I do kinda of wonder if he really dead because I truly believe he the one behide all of this


Another fantastic episode for a fantastic season this could very well be my favourite season if it continues like this.

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Burn Notice Season 7 Episode 7 Quotes

Fiona: Dammit, red light.
Sam: What, is that a problem?
Fiona: No, more of a warning.

Michael: Fi, I've asked you so much of already. I couldn't ask you to be part of this operation without knowing everything.
Fiona: Are you worried about the operation? Or are you asking whether it's ok for you to sleep with the enemy? I mean she's still the enemy right?